Cologne, 17 August 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Luuk de Jong struck with 12 minutes to go to fire Sevilla into the Europa League final, with a 2-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday.
The record five-time winners rode their luck in the first half but edged an even second to beat the English side in Cologne, consigning United to a third semi-final defeat this season following their FA Cup and League Cup knock-outs.
Bruno Fernandes fired Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United ahead from the penalty spot after just nine minutes with typical panache after Diego Carlos felled Marcus Rashford.
It was the Portuguese playmaker’s 14th converted penalty since joining Manchester United in January – the English side have been awarded a remarkable 22 in all competitions.
Fred came close to doubling the lead but could not find the net at the near post and regretted it when former Liverpool winger Suso levelled after fine work by left-back Sergio Reguilon.
Anthony Martial curled narrowly over the crossbar as the game lurched from end-to-end, before giving way to a scrappy, nervy spell before half-time.
United might have been awarded another penalty as Carlos barged into Fernandes, but the officials turned a blind eye to the challenge and the video-assistant referee did not intervene.
Sevilla goalkeeper Bono made a string of fine saves at the start of the second half to deny Mason Greenwood and Martial, and the Red Devils came to rue those misses.
The game settled down into an even encounter, but Sevilla substitute De Jong lost Victor Lindelof to convert Jesus Navas’s cross and fire his team into the lead from close range after 78 minutes.
“It feels very nice to be in the final,” said Suso. “They were a strong, fast opponent and had several really good chances. I’m really happy we won this game.
“Now I’m looking forward to playing the final. As an ex-Milan player I know how tough it is to face Inter. But it would be tough anyway.”
Bono’s six saves proved crucial to help Julen Lopetegui’s Europa League specialists reach their sixth final.
“We were clever and in the bad moments we were strong,” added the goalkeeper. “When they had difficult moments, we scored the goals. This team has good motivation and now we have a beautiful final.” United sought to cap a good finish to the season after the restart by getting to the final – but it wasn’t to be.
“The boys are devastated in there, we created numerous chances and the best team lost the game,” said Manchester United defender Harry Maguire.
“We’ve been ruthless at times this year and today we weren’t. We scored and then we maybe let them out a bit too easy and they had too much possession for our liking.
“Conceding from two crosses is not good enough but we worked our socks off out there and we deserved to go through.”